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Zero tolerance means zero common sense

By   /   January 30, 2013  /   Comments

From time to time, news surfaces of how zero tolerance rules are being applied and show a complete lack of common sense.  Recently, a child faced suspension because he built a gun out of Legos.  Another young child got in trouble for her paper gun, which was really nothing more than a square piece of paper with one quarter removed, giving it the rough shape of a gun.

Locally, several years ago, a Lee County teen faced expulsion for a kitchen knife that fell out of a box and was in his truck.

Folks, I understand the reasoning for zero tolerance laws.  I really do.  Something needs to be done to keep our children safe within the walls of our schools, and weapons shouldn’t be there.  I agree with that.

However, zero tolerance removes administrators ability to look at circumstances and make decisions based on the individual instances.  For example, the Lee County teen was a solid student and no discipline problem.  A quick conversation with his parents would have confirmed that the boy’s truck was used to help move the family the previous weekend.  A decision could have been made.

Any sane human being understands that there is no risk to anyone from a Lego gun, or a paper gun.  They’re just not capable of taking human life, and that’s fine.  They’re not weapons, they’re toys.  They’re not even part of the genre of toy guns that look real.  Anyone convinced that a Lego gun is real is frankly a far bigger threat than the toy itself.

In addition, these rules have actually prevents students from wearing shirts that show depictions of American soldiers because those troops are armed.

Seriously folks, we need to inject a little sanity back into our classrooms, and permitting administrators to make the decisions would be a heck of a place to start.

Tom Knighton is the Editor and Publisher of the Albany Journal.

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